L. García on deal: 'Sox were my priority'

December 1st, 2021

CHICAGO -- is not leaving the South Side.

To be honest, it was never a real consideration.

The longest-tenured current White Sox player agreed to a three-year, $16.5 million deal, the club confirmed Wednesday. Under his new contract, García will make $5.5 million each season from 2022-24.

If García plays all three seasons, his White Sox tenure will span 12 years.

“Honestly, I can’t believe it’s real,” said García through interpreter Billy Russo on Wednesday. “Being able to play 12 years with this organization definitely will be something very special. Hopefully, I can end my career with this organization.”

“We all witnessed the benefit of having Leury's flexibility and proficiency at a variety of different roles on the roster last season,” said White Sox general manager Rick Hahn. “So, having him around provides that similar flexibility for us and coverage for whatever may unexpectedly arise going forward. We're glad to have the legend back.”

Some view García, 30, as a utility player because he has played every position but catcher and first base during his nine-year MLB career. With that versatility in mind, García spoke Wednesday of an offseason training approach during which he focuses on a different defensive position each day. 

But White Sox manager Tony La Russa won’t allow such a description to be attached to the talented switch-hitter.

“He’s a regular player who plays all around,” said La Russa during the past season. “If this guy stays healthy, he’ll get as many at-bats as a regular.

“He’s going to play all over. He’s not a utility player. He’s just a really good, everyday, versatile player.”

García was signed by the Rangers as an amateur free agent in 2007 and debuted with Texas in 2013 before he was acquired by Chicago that August for outfielder Alex Rios. Since then, García has appeared in 579 games for the White Sox and is a career .259/.302/.364 hitter with 31 homers, 77 doubles and 62 stolen bases.

As part of the 2021 American League Central champions, García set a career high with 54 RBIs. He delivered a number of important hits during the 93-win effort, including a long three-run home run off Houston reliever Yimi García during a 12-6 victory in Game 3 of the AL Division Series, which García said is the most memorable moment of his career.

“The memory of that homer is still fresh in my mind,” he said. “I can remember that like it was last night.”

Leury García was called into frequent service in ‘21 due to injuries sustained by left fielder Eloy Jiménez, center fielder Luis Robert and even shortstop Tim Anderson in September.

Having a natural shortstop like García serve as the team’s top fill-in option around the diamond is important to the team. There was a focus on second base and in right field in regard to Chicago's offseason additions, positions García has played previously. But his addition should not keep the team from looking to fill those positions either via free agency or trade, although the White Sox also have Gavin Sheets, Andrew Vaughn and Adam Engel as possibilities in right field, and Danny Mendick and Romy Gonzalez in the second-base mix.  

"[Second base] will continue to be an area where if we’re able to get better and use the flexibility of each of those three players currently on the roster in a better way, we’ll chase it down,” Hahn said.

“Apart from my mom’s home, the White Sox, that is my second home,” García said, “I never thought of going anywhere. The White Sox were my priority.”